I've written many times that Nicholas Sarkozy is a fool, but this belief was confirmed anew after Sarkozy's latest rant against Peter Mandelson because Mandelson has the termerity to support free-trade and the abolition of CAP.
Mandelson's position is not exceptional though. His predecessor as Trade Commissioner, Pascal Lamy (who was a member of Mitterand's government) was also very much in favour of abolishing CAP and pushing free-trade. And Lamy impressed so much on his free trade credentials that he was appointed to head the WTO. But then the socialists do not get votes from farmers and are not enamoured with the argument that precious resource should be diverted towards them. The Barroso Commission at large is in favour of free-trade.
What was extraordinary about Sarkozy's outburst though was his piss-poor understanding of economics and the dynamics of subsidy. The whole point of CAP is that it puts a floor on prices, via the "intervention price" that protects against low global prices. The idea is that if prices get too low, farmers are tempted to abandon the land and the intervention price prevents this. Abandonment of the land is the big European fear, dating back to WW2 when food could not be imported. Land that has been concreted over is lost to food production forever - hence the intervention prices and the payments for set-aside to keep land in a condition that it can be ploughed at any time.
However, when world prices are high, the intervention price is not needed at all, and neither are the payments for set-aside. The farmer can make huge profits just by ensuring that he meets demand. Therefore Sarkozy's argument that high food prices requires more CAP is complete bull. We will never see such an auspicious time to reform CAP. It's like reforming benefits - you always do this in times of full employment because the hurt is minimised. Reforming CAP should take place now, while high world food prices mean that farmers won't really hurt from the reform at all.
The French must be really regretting electing Sarkozy. He's achieved little and managed to annoy Germany, Britain, the EU Commmission and China. His only pal is fellow conservative Dubya.
Speaking of conservatives - Sarkozy proves the principle of Vote Conservative, Get An Idiot, which we first saw in action in the USA.
Conservatism = Bush = Sarkozy = Idiots
British people should take note when they go to the polls for the general election. Don't let it happen here!